Eclectic art rockers Moulettes have announced an extensive UK/Irish jaunt throughout December encompassing eighteen shows and bringing a rapturous conclusion to their two-year Preternatural tour which has taken the group across Europe and Canada. The band play The Brook, Southampton on December 6th. I was fortunate enough to be given time to catch up with both Hannah Miller and Raevennan Husbandes from the band.
I’ll be brutally honest that I’d never listened to the Moulettes until I was doing some research before catching up with the band. I have since fallen in love with their music. Pigeonholing the band’s style is a tricky job but if you are a fan of Arcade Fire, St Vincent and Regina Spektor I think that you’ll like what you hear.
Could you tell me about how you initially got involved with music and who influenced you most?
Raevennan Husbandes: My grandad had an old acoustic in the loft that he’d get out when I’d visit for school holidays. He also had a tiny Casio keyboard that I loved messing about on. But it was my mum who noticed and championed my musical abilities and worked hard to find me lessons when I was young. She was and still is a big influence.
Hannah Miller: I have my family to thank too. They all love and play music, and have consistently encouraged and believed in what I was doing. It helps that my dad makes instruments! He dreamed up my 5-string Electric cello which is designed to hold its own in a loud rock context, It’s difficult to amplify string instruments and retain their subtlety and nuance.
I have racked my brain to try and describe the Moulettes musical style with no joy, how would you describe it?
Hannah: Aha, the million-dollar question! It is an eclectic beast – The other day someone said it was like “a slice of another world” I liked that. As far as the Preternatural show goes, you can expect extremes of lushness and atmospherics alongside big bombastic riffs and rage shredding… and everything in between. We like textures and colour, and there is lots of detail and craft in the music we make. I think the best way to understand is to come and see for yourself.
For those who are new to your music which three tracks would you encourage them to check out first and why?
Hannah: We’ll also play a few of the older tracks, ‘Between 2 Mirrors’ is a good one for cinematic expansive drama!
Raevennan: ‘Right Of Passage,’ ‘Pufferfish Love‘ and ‘Silk.’ Mostly because they are three of my favourites to play live, but also because that selection showcases the best of our progressive, soulful and atmospheric sensibilities.
How do you feel that your latest album compares and contrasts to your previous releases?
Hannah: I actually listened to them all in a row the other day, which I have never done- the older records I haven’t listened to for years. I think with our self-titled debut (2010) we were flexing our Mouls – there’s a prog tendency in their, flirtations with swing, experimentations with strange effects and soundscapes… disembowelled pianos and the like – the blueprint was there but it needed refining…
The Bears Revenge (2012) took us in to ‘folkier’ territory, more experimentation with a wider spectrum of instruments – hammered dulcimer, the odd stray progressive banjo, (The amazing Matt Meneffee) resonating glasses… and Georgina Leach’s Hi-Octane Violin exploits are a definite core part of this record, and the interplay between Cello & Violin) … but its definitely on the ‘experimental’ end of Folk, and it has some pretty unexpected twists and turns.
Jim Mortimore came on board at the end of making this record, so it was great to re-work bass world back into the picture. Constellations (2014) was about documenting the musicians who had been a part of the journey so far – mapped out in the stars! We had legends like Arthur Brown & Herbie Flowers alongside contemporaries like Emma Richardson (Band of Skulls) The Unthanks & Blaine Harrison (Mystery Jets) – as well as guest players from the pantheon of Brighton talent – its very orchestral and cinematic at times – we had the pleasure of assembling a chamber orchestra, with brass and woodwind alongside the usual strings. We worked with a sound library of noise we recorded – slamming filing cabinets, chains on metal drums and stuff like that.
For Preternatural (2016) we wanted to consolidate and explore the band sound, without guests or features- and though I think there is a strong conceptual angle on all of the records, this is the one where that is most obvious. Raevennan Husbandes joined in early 2015, which is when we began pre-production, so it was new to work with Electric guitar as the co-lead instrument and find interesting blends with electric cello, Bassoon & Bass, as well as adding her beautiful voice to the vocal mix.
We wanted to get the big riffs in there, lots of vocal harmony alongside strange ‘found sounds’ synths and samplers.
Oliver Austin & I have worked together on all the records – and the songs always start their life with me, pulling strands out of my brain in a solitary cave – so that’s the one consistent thread through them all, and I think that what we put out is always identifiably ‘Moulettes’… It’s been an adventure!
What bands and artists are you currently listening to and how are they inspiring you to explore and implement new ideas with your music?
Raevennan: I’m currently listening to Aaron Copland‘s ‘Appalachian Spring‘ is one of my favourite orchestral suites. The new St Vincent record has been on the go quite a bit since it’s release in October when we were touring Canada; Laura Mvula is a firm favourite for innovative boundary crushing and Oli Rockberger’s Sovereign is a great body of work. He’s utterly incredible live – his harmonic language is really exciting.
Hannah: I’ve been doing lots of headphone listening of late… my favourite four songs/tunes today are: Barbara Lewis ‘Someday We’re Going To Love Again,’ ‘Tsintskaro‘ sung by Hamlet Gonashvili (Sometimes called ‘the voice of Georgia’ – hair-stand-up vocal lushness- beyond this world). Tune-Yards ‘Look At Your Hands,’ and Hanneke Cassel’s ‘Dot The Dragon’s Eyes’ – great violinist. Not sure yet how exactly how they will work in future music I make, but they make me happy to be alive.
While on tour do you get very much time to explore the towns and cities that you are playing?
Raevennan: It’s not often we get to explore and we definitely won’t have the time on this tour; 19 shows in 21 days with one of our days off being a van-confined travel day! But sometimes it makes all the difference to take a walk around the block before the show, get some fresh air and try and get a feel for the place.
What can those fortunate enough to have tickets expect from your live show?
As far as the Preternatural show goes, you can expect extremes of delicate lushness and atmospherics alongside big bombastic riffs and rage-y shredding… and everything in between. We like textures and colour, and there is lots of detail and craft in the music we make. I think the best way to understand is to come and see for yourself.
What can we expect from the Moulettes in 2018?
It’s a secret… expect to be surprised xxx
As far as the Preternatural show goes, you can expect extremes of delicate lushness and atmospherics alongside big bombastic riffs and rage-y shredding.
There is still a limited number of tickets left for the show which are priced at £12/£14. Pick up yours from the venue directly or online at www.ticketweb.uk. The band are also available to stream and download online.